<- Internet Studio

https://www.206117896.com by Samuel Chang

This project began with my interest in the various content that was available on the Internet. That interest was sparked after witnessing an ISIS beheading/propaganda video shortly after watching a Youtuber vlog about his day. I remember having a short moment of reflection after seeing those two videos and thinking to myself how profound it was to be able to witness two completely different videos within the same browser. I realized that what I had experienced was only a tiny fraction of what the Internet entailed and that the Internet was a vast sea of information containing things that I could only begin to imagine. My interest in the available content on the Internet only grew stronger upon reading Jamie Bartlett’s book, “The Dark Net”. I was intrigued by Bartlett’s experiences within the dark web because I saw that there was another world out in the web unknown to so many.

What I had formulated from these experiences was a desire to investigate the various content found on the Internet and present them in an engaging manner. I wanted people to see things that they didn’t usually see on the Internet. The seeing is important because it was more about experiencing the content then simply knowing that it existed. I felt that to truly understand what the Internet entailed one had to experience it firsthand. I wanted people to experience what I had to offer and maybe even have a moment of reflection on what they saw, just like how I did when I saw those two videos.

Much of the process during this project consisted of culling information. I was inspired by Jon Rafman’s video, “Mainsqueeze” where Rafman essentially surfed the deep web in order to collect the source materials. I primarily pulled content from Reddit, 4Chan and various sites within the dark web through TOR. There wasn’t a formal procedure to this as I just picked content that I felt was obscure.

Putting the content together and presenting them in an engaging manner was a challenge as well. It took a while to figure out how exactly I wanted to present everything. I decided to create a website and store the links within buttons. Thus, users are able to choose what they want to see by clicking on the buttons, which individually have descriptions of their respective content. I had originally wanted to force the users to see the content by immediately presenting it without their consent, but I felt that such a forceful approach came from desires to shock and disgust. I think this was an immature approach and I realized that giving people the option to choose what they want to see is more ideal as people reveal much more about themselves depending on what they choose to see.

What intrigued me as I was finding content was the connection between the content and the content producer. What I have discovered through this project is that the Internet is a direct reflection of its users. What I mean is the content we put up on the Internet is an extension of our own human psyche. Our doubts, fears, motivations, perversion and depravity all find their way into the content we produce. The Internet can be so overwhelming sometimes that we forget that humans are ultimately responsible for everything we see on the Internet. So, I think this project ended up not only investigating what the Internet entailed but also who we as Internet users are.

I also wanted to emphasize the Self within the overall experience. I think we often browse the Internet with a sense of detachment. This is apparent when you hear about the “digital self” and the “real self”. Thus, I reinforced the Self by using the computer’s webcam in order to bring the user into the frame of the browser. Now, users will see the content as well as their face in their peripheral visions. I think having the camera on definitely changes the viewing experience as you’re more aware of yourself and your surroundings; the webcam not only shows your face but also what or who is behind you.

I have also been fortunate enough to have had this project evolve on its own. As the project progressed I felt that the culling process was too forced. I think that having to intentionally search for content placed too many constraints on myself, which hindered the project from being a natural creation. I began to think about the process of browsing as an art itself and almost an extension of our unconscious minds. Thus, I decided to radically change how I culled content; instead of deliberately going out to find obscure content I decided to simply upload everything I browsed on the Internet on a daily basis to the website. This approach has definitely changed the overall feel of the website as it starts with links that lead to the most obscure parts of the Internet and gradually shows the most banal parts, which ultimately represent my browsing history. I don’t, however, think that this changes the original purpose of the project. The intended goal was to garner self-reflection within the user and so whether or not the content was intentionally chosen doesn’t matter all that much. I would be content as long as people are thinking about what they’re seeing.

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